Country Strong Parent Guide
Country fans may be enticed into theaters by this movie's musical score. For other viewers, the characters' casual attitudes toward sex and alcohol make for a depressing entertainment option.
Parent Movie Review
Despite the glitz and glamour of being in the spotlight, life as a performer isn’t always as good as it appears—especially when one’s career is threatened by addictions. Six-time Grammy-award winner and country-singing sensation Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) nosedived off the stage before a packed stadium in Dallas as the consequence of a pre-show alcohol binge. Following that, her career plummeted as she stumbled to get back on her feet.
While spending several months in rehabilitation at a quiet, gated facility, she meets Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund). He’s an aspiring singer-songwriter who croons to patrons at the local watering hole at night and works at the center during the day. Their common interest in music helps spawn a friendship between the two. But even from his uneducated position at work, he knows Kelly isn’t ready to leave rehab when her husband James (Tim McGraw) pulls her out early to go on tour.
Still feeling fragile and distant from her spouse, she insists that Beau come along and open for her. James has other plans. He intends to put Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester) up on stage. The young beauty queen contestant is the new face of country music—a perky, pop-style singer who yearns to hear the applause of the crowd. Finally, James, determined to get his wife back in front of her fans, agrees to bring both young artists with them. However, he puts pressure on Beau to keep Kelly sober as the musicians head out for their first stop on a ten-city tour.
Once on the road, the demons that drove Kelly to the bottle continue to haunt her. And while most of her fans are eager to hear her sing again, some won’t forget what happened in Dallas. When she falters during her first outing, some critics are quick to decry her return. Soon the tour becomes more about damage control than hitting the high notes.
For audiences, there’s nothing subtle about this script by writer/director Shana Feste. Like the lyrics about an achy-breaky heart in a classic country ballad, it seems every character is wallowing in the depths of despair at some point. No one loses their favorite dog or pick-up truck, but there are plenty of other dilemmas to warble about.
Unfortunately neither McGraw nor Paltrow’s performances strike the same chord they’ve achieved in other movies. It is hard to believe that McGraw’s character is nearly as concerned about his wife’s welfare as he is the concert earnings she can bring in. And Paltrow’s character is anything but strong—country or otherwise. Whimpering through the tour and her troubled relationships, it is hard to conceive she could muster enough inner resolve to rally for even one performance. Fortunately Hedlund plays the one bright light as a singer who refuses to be wooed by the flashy set and screaming audiences.
Country fans may be enticed into theaters by this movie’s musical score. Yet for other viewers, these woeful individuals’ casual attitude toward sex and cravings for alcohol, fame and fortune make for a rather depressing entertainment option.Directed by Shana Feste . Starring Garrett Hedlund, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leighton Meester, Tim McGraw. Running time: 118 minutes. Theatrical release January 7, 2011. Updated July 17, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is Country Strong rated PG-13? Country Strong is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic elements involving alcohol abuse and some sexual content.
Violence: A character commits suicide using prescription pills. A woman hits a man in the face. A man punches another man and knocks him to the ground.
Sexual Content: Characters have a casual attitude toward sex and make several comments about it. Women are shown in their underwear several times. An unmarried couple kisses passionately and sexual activity is implied. Another unmarried, partially dressed couple is shown kissing. A man and woman are shown wearing only towels.
Language: The script includes frequent profanities, mild curses and scatological slang.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A character struggles with an alcohol addiction and uses liquor to deal with stress and sadness. Characters drink on numerous occasions and others are depicted as being inebriated. One character abuses prescription drugs. Another character smokes in several scenes.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
Country Strong Parents' Guide
What are the personal costs of becoming a performer? What stresses does a singer face that the average fan does not?
What challenges may cause people to turn to drugs or alcohol for relief? Does fame make it easier to access or justify the use of these substances? How difficult do you think it is to avoid these when you are involved in an on-stage lifestyle?
What are the benefits of rehabilitation clinics? Considering the success (or failure) of some stars that have recently used these facilities, do you think they are worthwhile? What makes a person more likely to successfully change?
The most recent home video release of Country Strong movie is April 12, 2011. Here are some details…
Country Strong releases to DVD and Blu-ray on April 12, 2011, with the following bonus materials:
- Original Ending
- Music Video: A Little Bit Stronger by Sara Evans
- Music Video: Country Strong by Gwyneth Paltrow
- Extended Performance of Shake That Thing by Gwyneth Paltrow
- Deleted Scenes
Country Strong on Blu-ray also includes these extras:
- Featurette: A Little Bit Country: The Costumes
- Featurette: Friends in High Places: The Cast of Country Strong
- Featurette: Putting the Words in Their Mouths: The Songwriters
- movieIQ+sync: The Country Strong playlist
Related home video titles:
Singer Johnny Cash’s struggle with drugs and alcohol also comes under the lens in the biographical movie Walk the Line. Other films featuring the back stage lives of musical personalities include Ray, Dreamgirls, De-lovey, Beyond the Sea and Selena.